Home > News > El Salvador: Br Julián Goñi, doyen of the Institute (27/07/1909 – 5/02/2012)

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Br Julián Goñi, doyen of the Institute (27/07/1909 – 5/02/2012)

11/02/2012: El Salvador

Brother Julian was the oldest brother in the Institute when he died recently at the age of 103. The following article was published when he turned 100 years in 2009. Julián Goñi came to Santa Ana in the 1960s. He has lived in the city since then and this is where he recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

The centenarian is an amiable and good tempered man. On his birth in Navarra, Pamplona, in 1909, he received the name of Julián Goñi.

As a Marist brother, he is known as “Brother Goñi”.

From 1964, he taught classes in the high school of San Luis de Santa Ana, El Salvador, and later in other public schools of the city and in the now Catholic University of El Salvador, UNICAES, for seven years, giving classes in Philosophy, Logic and History.

He has not taught for some years, although his voice is still strong and he is able to carry on a fluent and clear conversation. It is not his throat which makes his conversation pleasant, since he has hundreds of things to talk about, even if there are many years of difference between him and the person he is talking to.

It was due to the Congregation of the Marist Brothers that he left Pamplona at the age of 11 years, for Arceniega, Álava, Spain, and the following year he went to Italy, where he studied for his baccalaureat in French. In fact, the Marist Institute conducted some 300 schools in France until the government of 1903 replaced them in this work.

Julián came to America after spending five years in Italy, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Then he was sent to Cuba in 1926. He studied at the university where he was a companion of Fidel Castro: “I saw him run but then he made me run too”, said Br Goñi.

At 21, he graduated in Science and Literature and became a Marist Brother, making his perpetual vows. From then to 1961 he taught on the island, where the congregation had 12 colleges and more than 160 brothers. All had to leave, and 100 of them were put on a flight to Miami. “We had to rely on food from the Red Cross, and although we had a college in Miami there was not enough to feed everyone. We slept in the Red Cross quarters for some days, until we were able to find ourselves a place”, he recalled.

He was appointed to Chile, and for a period travelled back and forth to Argentina. In    1964, he came to Santa Ana, where he gave classes to those studying for the bachelors’ degree when the college was functioning in the city’s seminary. A year later, the educational institution moved to the present college building. “I don’t teach now, he said, but I did until five years ago”.

Although he no longer forms part of the teaching body, there is an institution within the college, where he lives with his Marist brothers, with whom he shares life and experiences.

“I am well, my mind is sound, I don’t need a walking stick or anything. Then, I go out in the morning for the mail, and to Mass each afternoon; I have total liberty, but for classes…nothing”, said the centenarian brother.

He likes the whole city, since he is sure that he has visited all parts of it. He remembers his stay in the now vanished watchtower on the hill of Santa Lucía, his tramps to the cross on Tecana hill and to the lake of Coatepeque, where he had a swim and then returned on foot.

Julián Goñi taught in Liceo San Luis from 1964 to 2004. In the college auditorium, situated on the second floor of the building, there are photos of all the class groups. He appears in them from 1972 to 1998.

(Article published in the periodical La Prensa Gráfica de El Salvador, on the occasion of his 100 years: www.laprensagrafica.com, 2009)

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